Heal Your Church WebSite

Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Tweaking Instapundit’s New Design

When it comes to issues of the law and punditry, and even to a degree digital photography, �ber-blogger Glenn Reynolds has it all over me. However, when it comes to issues of website usability and accessibility, I think I might have the advantage over the otherwise all knowing Instapundit.Recently, the good Dr.�s site underwent a very nice facelift: bolder fonts, bolder colors, less distracting presentation of his blogads and permalinks, and a useful �Don�t Make Me Think� style navigation/menu bar along the top. In other words, I like it, I like it a lot. That said there is some tweaking I might affect before blessing this redesign as completely done.

Perhaps the biggest problem I have with the site is the �active pattern� employed as borders. I found my eyes drawn to what I perceived as �motion� along the fringe, instead of keeping my eyes centered on compelling content that has always been king at Dr. Reynolds� site. It makes reading the site for any length of time difficult � almost to the point of a headache.

Next I�d reword �Stylesheet Switcher� to �Change Font Size.� The former may give the user the impression that they�ll get the old stylesheet, even with the iconic help directly below the words. I�d then take this entire block of code and switch its ‘above-the-fold‘ position with the somewhat buried Search box input form. Most browsers allow the user to change the font size on their own � while server-side searches on a site as chock-full of great content as Instapundit are likely to be in greater demand, or to quote the godfather of usability:

“Search is the user’s lifeline for mastering complex websites. The best designs offer a simple search box on the home page and play down advanced search and scoping.” – Jakob Nielsen

I would obfuscate the email address.

With these quick fixes out of the way, I would strive to use a (generated) tableless layout. Not to prove I�m a hip-cool programmer guy, but primarily because it would allow me to switch to a variety of formats merely by switching the CSS. As it stands now, there is a separate PDA and Print page; the latter of which could be healed with a little bit of �Miracle Print.� I�d make sure the new layout had a footer that offered some simple text hyperlinks all of the useful navigation elements from the top.

I think I�d then do something about reworking the archives page. There is quite a bit of information that I would think of interest to any one into history or political science. Especially anyone in the process of writing a book needing a roadmap on who said what regarding recent political events.

If I did move the search form/block to the top, I would then rework the search results page to include revenue-bearing elements such as Google’s Adsense. After all, the user is explicitly conveying their immediate interest in the form of keywords and phrases, the exact information revenue-bearing programs use to determine who sees what ad. As long as you’re going to have ads on the page, go all the way.

Again, please note, we�re talking tweaks here. Obviously this page has been rendered by a professional who knows what she’s doing. Given the great cloud of witlessness that plagues many weblogs and church web sites, I’d say there are plenty of positive elements on the newly designed Instapundit website that are worth emulating. That said, because the site is the gateway drug of blogging, I would like to see it as addictive as possible.

What do you think? Leave a love note, lemme know.

One Comment

  1. OK, I’m with you on the whole CSS issue, but I work on a govt. intranet site and I know what browser everyone is using. I had a heated argument last night about our new site design for our church. My point being get rid of most of the tables and and use CSS. My partner as well as my wife say we should make the site accessible to Netscape 3, at which point I sarcastically replied, “Why stop there why don’t we make it compliant to Opera 2.0 we wouldn’t want to leave anyone out.” (I’m such an opinionated hot head) I actually ended up asking if we could at least agree on 4.x for IE and Netscape, but I don’t feel like I even got that compromise.
    So, my question for you Mr. Guru is what browser version do you design your sites for?